The Philadelphia Flyers want to add a goaltender, but general manager Paul Holmgren learned from his Ilya Bryzgalov disaster.
He doesn’t want to place a long-term on a netminder until he sees how that player fits into the Flyers system and handles the Philadelphia spotlight.
Holmgren is evaluating free agents willing to sign short-term deals and trade targets with a year left on their contract.
He has expressed confidence in incumbent Steve Mason, but such proclamations are just for show. Nothing about Mason’s performance the past few seasons suggest he could hold up as a No. 1 goaltender.
His targets seem obvious:
- Tim Thomas, free agent. If the former Boston Bruins star wants to play again, the Flyers would have take a long look at him. But Thomas has been holed up in his Colorado bunker for the past season fretting about the state of the American political system. Can he get his head back into hockey?
- Evgeni Nabokov, free agent. If the Flyers really believe Mason has potential, Nabokov could provide stopgap veteran assistance. He is an emotionally stable veteran who did an OK job for the New York Islanders. He seems like a safe but unspectacular option.
- Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres. He is a classic workhorse No. 1 goaltender. His cap hit for next season is pretty steep ($6.25 million) and his combative personality might give the Flyers pause. On the other hand, he would be highly motivated to earn his next contract. This job would not be too big for him.
- Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis Blues. He has a year left on his contract that carries a more modest cap hit ($3.75 million). He proved physically and emotionally fragile in St. Louis, but, like Miller, he would embrace the challenge of reestablishing his financial value in the “walk” year of his contract.
- Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks. He has two years left on his deal at $4 million per season. He was generally good as the lead Vancouver netminder last season. But Holmgren seems skittish about making even that large of a commitment in goal right now.